Current Event Ramblings, March 11

It's been awhile since I've posted here, but we've been pretty busy and that's pretty exhausting.  We've got middle school students only this week, and all boys.  They are extremely rowdy and very poor with their English, so they don't pay much attention, talk all the time in class, and generally require more energy than I have.  I think perhaps the most disappointing thing that I've seen about Korea since I've been here is the behavior of the elementary and middle school students.  Westerners tend to have this view of Oriental children that they are very respectful of their elders and that, unlike American students, are quiet and studious in class.  At least, that's was my thinking before I arrived here.  Not so.  I don't know all of the reasons, but I suspect it's partly because the Koreans have borrowed the stupid Western idea that students aren't to be disciplined except in ways that are totally ineffectual.  Some of these kids need to be taken out and have their backsides busted--but we can't do that.  When you couple that with the Western feminist influence in Korea--many, many women now work and thus aren't at home to train their children as effectively as they could otherwise--then it's not too surprising to see such rowdiness among their children.  The kids still tend to be more respectful than Western kids, but if the Koreans keep going this way, it will only get worse for them.  I hope they realize it before it's too late.

And the South Korean government struck in a way that governments are wont to do.  We foreign teachers received a nasty surprise the other day when we were informed that our tax rate was to be the same as Koreans of the same income.  I'm not terribly sure that's fair since we don't have all of the same rights and benefits of citizens, but regardless of that, it's not what we were told when we signed our contracts.  Thus, since the taxes withheld on foreign teachers last year were less than for Koreans, and that tax rate is now being applied to last year's income, a lot of English Village teachers have gotten stuck with pretty high tax paybacks--into the hundreds of dollars and perhaps even thousands, I don't know.  I do know that there was an extreme amount of discontent and anger among foreign teachers to have this dropped on them suddenly and thus having to pay these extra taxes.  I didn't get hit since I was only here for half a year--indeed, I got a whopping $12 return, which would have been much more, of course, without the change in policy.  It's not the fault of English Village, it's just government.  They do what they want to do whenever they want to do it, and the people have no recourse except revolution.  Or getting shot.  Or complaining ineffectually.  The last is our only recourse here and so, obviously, nothing can be done.  But not all tyranny in Korea is on the other side of the border.

It's time for work so I need to go--I do have an adult class this morning which will be a joy.  I'm going to try to find some time later in the day or weekend to add a little more; there are a few things I'd like to comment on but that will have to wait until I have more energy.